For the first time since March of this year, truck tonnage increased from month to month, according to a report from the American Trucking Associations.
The ATA's advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index rose 0.3 percent to 110.9 in July, the highest reading since April. Despite the recovery, tonnage was down 3.7 percent from July a year ago, ATA said. Year-to-date the tonnage index was 2.6 percent lower than the same period in 2006.
July's tonnage reading points to continued softness in the trucking industry, said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. Looking for positive signs, Costello pointed out that the number of for-hire loads, which ATA publishes in a separate report, increased 0.4 percent during the first half of 2007 on a year-over-year basis.
"Construction freight on average weighs more than general freight. As a result, the weakness in the construction market is having a bigger impact on truck tonnage," Costello said.
The outlook for the fall freight season is a modest one. If shippers spread the peak season over more months, as they have increasingly done, and if the housing market remains down, economic growth will likely remain moderate, Costello said.